Object Lessons is an essay and book series about the unseen secret lives of ordinary things, from remote controls to morel mushrooms, blankets to barcodes. And, presumably, trash or things destined to become trash.

Each Object Lessons project starts from a specific prompt: an anthropological query, archeological discovery, historical event, literary passage, personal narrative, philosophical speculation, technological innovation-and from there develop original insights around and novel lessons about the object in question. In this way Object Lessons harnesses recent movements in material culture studies and critical theory, while also forming a collection of volumes that will be of perennial interest, able to adapt and diversify over time and reflect fresh scholarly trends as new objects and lessons appear.  The emphasis throughout is lucid writing, imagination, and brevity.

Object Lessons invites contributions from scholars, writers, journalists, and anybody else, too. Lithe, writerly essays of roughly 2,000 words are published online at The Atlantic. Concise, affordable, beautifully designed books of roughly 25,000 words are published in print and electronic formats by Bloomsbury.

From Jussi Parikka's "The Geology of Media."

From Jussi Parikka’s “The Geology of Media.”

"Dust" by Michael Marder. "No matter how much you fight against it, dust pervades everything. It gathers in even layers, adapting to the contours of things and marking the passage of time. In itself, it is also a gathering place, a random community of what has been and what is yet to be, a catalog of traces and a set of promises: dead skin cells and plant pollen, hair and paper fibers, not to mention dust mites who make it their home. And so, dust blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead, plant and animal matter, the inside and the outside, you and the world (“for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”). This book treats one of the most mundane and familiar phenomena, showing how it can provide a key to thinking about existence, community, and justice today."

Dust” by Michael Marder. “No matter how much you fight against it, dust pervades everything. It gathers in even layers, adapting to the contours of things and marking the passage of time. In itself, it is also a gathering place, a random community of what has been and what is yet to be, a catalog of traces and a set of promises: dead skin cells and plant pollen, hair and paper fibers, not to mention dust mites who make it their home. And so, dust blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead, plant and animal matter, the inside and the outside, you and the world (“for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”). This book treats one of the most mundane and familiar phenomena, showing how it can provide a key to thinking about existence, community, and justice today.”